OnQ Blog

Brew: The Role of the Feature Phone in Today’s Mobile Market

Oct 18, 2011

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

Seemingly every day, we see another article on Android scaling wider and eating up market share at a blistering pace. It’s undeniable – the platform has established an incredible wave of momentum and is showing no signs of slowing down. At Qualcomm, we’re proud to have collaborated on Android  from the ground floor.  Android is joined in the smartphone race by operating systems such as Windows Phone, Blackberry, and of course iOS – all of which are adapting as needed to reach an increasingly broad consumer audience.

It begs several questions: where does the feature phone fit in all of this? Is there still room in the crowded mobile market for platforms such as Brew? Are consumers interested in taking advantage of the advanced feature phone services Brew provides?

The answers? “Comfortably,” “yes,” and “yes.” And we’ve got the stats to prove it.

Even as smartphones gain momentum globally, there remains a huge market for the type of smartphone-like feature phones that the Brew platform powers. Analysts are still predicting significant volumes in the feature phone segment. According to April 2011 data from Strategy Analytics, 61 percent of global handset sales in 2014 will be non-smartphones. 

We are committed to our Brew device and app distribution partners and feel Brew is the ideal platform for developers, operators and OEMs to tap into this huge revenue potential with feature phones. In order to further investigate the opportunity Brew presents the mobile ecosystem, we commissioned comScore  to show us the market reality in the U.S. And the results confirmed our inclination: feature phones remains an integral part of the mobile market, with a significant number of users that are active, engaged and share many of the same desires for apps and quality Internet browsing as their smartphone-owning counterparts.

For example, by comScore estimates from May 2011, five of the top ten mobile devices in the U.S. installed base are Brew devices, illustrating the platform’s critical role within the industry. And Brew enjoys an Android-like dominance within the feature phone segment, assuming 40 percent market share within the U.S. – an estimated 65.5 million users.

The study also shows the interests of Brew users to be similar to those using smartphones. Consumers with Brew devices are more likely than other feature phone users to utilize their mobile device for Web browsing, downloading apps and gaming. To that point, nearly half of Brew devices have 3G capabilities, compared to 32 percent of other feature phones. The point is clear – Brew users represent a valuable segment of the U.S. mobile market – and not just within the feature phone sector. Within the entire sector.

This provides just a taste of the  insights the comScore study provides.

There are hundreds of millions of new Brew-based devices projected for 2012 and beyond with more than 50 million monthly consumer transactions served through our system.  Brew continues to drive revenue opportunities for our valued partners within the operator, developer and OEM ecosystems including more than $3 billion in developer revenue to date.  It has emerged as a means to reinvent what is possible on a mobile device across diverse platforms and on a global scale.

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Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

David Tokunaga

Senior Director of Product Management

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